With the mercury soaring in Victoria, Red Cross urges locals to take extra care and to follow some simple tips for staying cool.
‘Extreme hot weather can cause serious health problems – most people don’t know that more Australians have died as a result of heatwaves than because of floods, bushfires or cyclones,’ says Australian Red Cross State Manager Emergency Services Angela Sutherland. ‘Older people, pregnant women, children, those with a disability and people taking medications are among those who are more at risk.’
Extreme heat can also cause major disruptions to daily life, such as electricity cuts, the closure of schools and workplaces, and disruptions to public transport.
‘Everyone is affected by the heat in different ways, but there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the effects,’ Ms Sutherland says. ‘Top of the list is keeping out of the heat and making sure you drink water regularly.’
Red Cross’ tips for coping with the heat:
- Drink regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Water is the best option. Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and sugary or fizzy drinks as they make dehydration worse.
- Eat little and often rather than large meals. Try to eat more cold food, particularly salads and fruit, which contain water.
- Stay indoors in the coolest rooms of your house or in the shade during the hottest part of the day.
- Take cool showers and splash yourself with cold water several times a day, particularly your face and the back of your neck. A loose, cotton, damp cloth or scarf on the back of the neck can also help you stay cool.
- Make sure there is sufficient air circulation, either from an air conditioner or by leaving a secured window or door open.
- If you must go out, stay in the shade. Wear a hat and light-coloured, loose-fitting clothes, preferably made of natural fibres. Wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 to exposed skin. If you will be outside for some time, take plenty of water with you.
For those in high fire risk areas, make sure you stay tuned to your local emergency broadcaster.
For more information on how to get prepared for emergencies large and small visit redcross.org.au/prepare.